Graduate Fellows

The Committee on Education is pleased to offer a fellowship program providing additional funding and support to PhD Students and Postdoctoral Fellows in the social sciences who have a deep interest in educational issues. Information on the structure of this program and how to apply can be found here. Below, you can view profiles of current fellows in this program. 

To view profiles of alumni of our fellowship program, click here.

 

    Jalisha Braxton

    IES Fellow

    jbraxton@uchicago.edu

    Background

    Jalisha is a doctoral student in the Department of Psychology. She graduated with honors from Princeton University in 2016 with a B.A. in Psychology and a certificate in Neuroscience. While at Princeton, Jalisha worked as a research assistant in the Human Working Memory Lab of Dr. Andrew Conway. Additionally, Jalisha has served as a research assistant in the Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics branch of Cohen Children’s Medical Center in New York and as an analytics contractor for the Delaware Department of Education.

    Research

    Jalisha is studying the role of metacognition in math education, math
    learning, how domain-specific attitudes and beliefs influence academic behaviors and outcomes. She serves as the lead researcher on the Math Anxiety & Study Strategies Project.

    Amanda Brown

    COE Fellow

    arbrown@uchicago.edu

    Background

    Amanda is a PhD student in the Department of Comparative Human
    Development.

    Research

    Amanda’s research interests include spontaneous gesture and embodiment of language, bilingualism, and the use of narrative and pretend speech over development. She recently completed her master’s project analyzing how seeing and doing affect how individuals describe their experiences using motion capture technology. Her newest project investigates how parents and young children engage in decontextualized speech such as narrative and pretend using data collected for the Language Development Project.

    Natalie Brezack

    IES Fellow

    nbrezack@uchicago.edu

    Background

    Natalie is a graduate student in the Department of Psychology. She graduated from the University of Oregon in 2013 with a B.S. in Psychology. For her honors thesis, Natalie researched individual differences in preschooler’s preference for and processing of infant-directed action under the supervision of Dr. Dare Baldwin. 

    Research

    Natalie’s research interests involve social and cognitive development of children (perspective-taking, helping, etc.) and the ways in which caregiver-child interactions impact learning.

    Deena Bernett

    IES Fellow

    dbernett@uchicago.edu

    Background

    Deena is a graduate student in the Department of Psychology.She graduated from Brown University in 2003. Since graduating, she has received an MA in Cognitive Studies in Education from Teacher’s College, Columbia University and a Master’s degree for teaching Biology from Brooklyn College. Deena has worked on the Getting on Track Project, a program that provides preschool teachers with individualized math assessment tools. She has also previously worked as a teacher in low-income, urban public and charter schools. 

    Research

    Deena’s research interests include Preschool and Elementary Mathematics Education. Specifically, she focuses on the instructional practices that can best support that learning and what types of experiences help students build robust conceptual understanding in mathematics. 

    Jacob Butts

    COE Fellow

    jakeb@uchicago.edu

    Background

    Jake is a doctoral student in the Developmental Psychology program working with Dr. Susan Levine. He graduated from Williams College in 2014 with honors and a B.A. in Psychology. Jake then spent several years working in education in Singapore before returning to psychological research. Prior to starting graduate school, Jake served as a research assistant and lab manager in the Cognitive Development Lab at the University of Chicago.   

    Jake’s research focuses on conceptual development in children, with a focus on mathematical symbols and notations. Specifically, he is interested in how linguistic input and spatial representations impact children’s understanding of mathematical concepts. Through this research, Jake hopes to better understand the basic cognitive processes that drive learning and identify mechanisms to close achievement gaps in mathematics.

    Cristina Carazza

    IES Fellow

    cristinac@uchicago.edu

    Background

    Cristina is a graduate student in the Department of Psychology.  She graduated from the University of Chicago in 2013.  Following graduation, she worked as a Research Assistant in the Cognition Learning and Development Lab at the University of Notre Dame. Cristina works with the Getting on Track Project for her Apprenticeship. This project works with Head Start teachers to deliver an assessment and instruction tools that will help them track the math development of students and ensure they are on track for kindergarten entry.   

    Research

    Cristina is interested in research into early math learning, specifically regarding the malleable factors in the early learning environment that affect children’s understanding and future academic achievement and how small variations in instructional variables affect the knowledge children construct from learning experiences. She is also interested in the potential role of social variables in either diminishing or enhancing conceptual development and future academic success.

    Sarah Cashdollar

    IES Fellow

    scashdollar@uchicago.edu

    Background

    Sarah is a graduate student in the Department of Comparative Human Development.  She graduated from Dartmouth College in 2013.  Sarah has worked as a public school teacher in South Dallas, TX. Sarah has also recently completed an apprenticeship at the UChicago Consortium on School Search.

    Research

    Sarah’s research interests include student-teacher interactions, Common Core State Standards, and mixed methods. 

    Neil Cholli

    IES Fellow

    ncholli@uchicago.edu

    Background

    Neil is a graduate student in the Department of Economics. He received his B.A. in Mathematical Economics and Political Science at the University of Pennsylvania in 2016. 

    Research

    Neil studies issues related to poverty, inequality, and social mobility. He is particularly interested in uncovering the mechanisms behind inequality including family and social influences and evaluating policies aimed at promoting equality of opportunity such as schools, job training programs, and welfare reforms. He has also assisted IES faculty member Derek Neal on a recent book on the economics of education, Information, Incentives, and Education Policy (Harvard University Press, May 2018).

    Kallie Clark

    IES Fellow

    kalliec@uchicago.edu

    Background

    Kallie is a graduate student in the School of Social Service Administration (SSA).  She graduated California State University, Fullerton in 2005 and completed her Master of Social Work from SSA in 2015, having previously received a Master of Fine Arts from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2008.  Kallie has served in a variety of teaching and counseling roles in the Noble Network of Charter Schools in Chicago. 

    Research

    Kallie’s research focuses on examining K-16 education systems to identify point of leverage to increase equity in postsecondary outcomes for youth, specifically around college completion.  Her dissertation is tentatively titled “Postsecondary Pathways in Chicago Public Schools.”

    Bridgette Davis

    IES Fellow

    bdavis14@uchicago.edu

    Background

    Bridgette is a graduate student in the School of Social Service Administration. Prior to earning her master’s degree in social service administration, Davis worked in charter and traditional public schools in Atlanta and Chicago for eleven years. She taught both middle school and high school, served as a Dean of Instruction for the Noble Network of Charter Schools, worked as a program director for both Teach For America and One Goal, and managed a school-based college counseling team aimed at attaching high school graduates to four-year college and other meaningful post-secondary opportunities.

    Research

    Bridgette’s research interests include urban education, transitions to adulthood, homelessness, post-secondary education organizations, community colleges, and policy advocacy in the education sector.  Davis plans to study the emerging field of diverse organizations seeking to attach “disconnected” or “opportunity” youth to school and/or work.

    Jennifer Etienne

    COE Fellow

    jettienne@uchicago.edu

    Background

    Jennifer is a PhD student in the Department of Sociology. Previously,she earned an MA in Sociology and Education at Columbia University, where she researched the racial implications of school choice processes by interviewing students of color navigating public and elite, private high school admissions.

    Research

    Jennifer’s research interests center on the social contexts of education, race/ethnicity, and stratification. Currently, she uses qualitative research methods to examine the experiences of high school students, specifically students of color, when organizing for racial equity within or outside their schools’ diversity & inclusion frameworks.

    Karlyn Gorski

    IES Fellow

    gorski@uchicago.edu

    Background

    Karlyn is a graduate student in the Department of Sociology. She received her undergraduate degree in public policy, also from the University of Chicago, in 2014.

    Research

    Karlyn’s research focuses on adolescents in Chicago Public Schools (CPS). In particular, she is especially interested in how CPS students understand (in)equality, segregation, and opportunity, both within and beyond the CPS system. 

    Casey Hall

    COE Fellow

    chall8@uchicago.edu 

    Background

    Casey is a doctoral student in the Developmental program working with Susan Goldin-Meadow. She graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 2014 with a B.A. in Psychology and a minor in Portuguese and Brazilian Studies. While at Notre Dame, she worked in Nicole McNeil’s Cognition, Learning and Development Lab and completed her senior honors thesis examining the effects of different teaching methods on children’s understanding of math equivalence.

    Research

    Casey is interested in how acquiring language impacts children’s mathematical reasoning abilities. As a member of the Goldin-Meadow Lab, Casey is also interested in the role of gesture in learning and how it can be used as an educational tool for improving children’s understanding of fundamental math concepts.

    Alizé Hill

    COE Fellow

    alize@uchicago.edu

    Background

    Alizé is an AM/PhD student in the School of Social Service Administration. 

    Research

    Currently, Alizé’s research interests are situated at the intersection of K-12 schools, the criminal justice system, and adultification. Primarily, this has manifested as a desire to examine the within and between school differences of discipline implementation based on factors such as race, gender, school type (public vs private vs charter) and overall school demographics. She is also interested in possible interventions to mitigate youth involvement in the school to prison pipeline such as youth activism, youth attachment styles, and post-suspension supports.

    Ebony Hinton

    IES Fellow

    ehinton@uchicago.edu

    Background

    Ebony is a PhD student in the School of Social Service Administration. She graduated from the University of Alabama at Birmingham in 2012 and received her MS in education from Johns Hopkins University in 2016. During her time as an undergraduate student, she founded and managed the Reach Initiative, a college-preparation organization which offered services free of charge to local urban youths. Her research experiences were further honed during an internship at the University of Virginia – Curry School of Education Summer Undergraduate Research Program (SURP) where she investigated the nuances of teacher-student racial dynamics. After completing her undergraduate studies, Hinton went on to serve as a secondary educator in Miami, Florida.

    Research

    Ebony’s research interests lie in the social dynamics between schools and local communities; particularly involving issues of trust, mutual investment, and sustained collaboration. She is also interested in understanding schools as organizations and how school-level practices and policy implementation work to meet the social and emotional needs of students. Ebony wants her work to contribute to a better understanding of the role of school contextual factors in policy implementation—especially for reforms relating to school culture, climate and safety. Through her work at the Consortium for Chicago School Research (CCSR), she secured a position on a research team investigating the role of exposure to community violence in Chicago Public Schools.

    Ezra Karger

    IES Fellow

    karger@uchicago.edu

    Background

    Ezra is a graduate student in the Department of Economics.  He graduated from the University of Chicago in 2014. While a student at the University, Ezra was actively engaged in research analyzing student achievement and test-taking measures.  He is working on several projects involving data from Chicago Public Schools (CPS) and the U.S. Census Bureau.

    Research

    Ezra’s research interests include labor economics, the economics of education, and the measurement of inequality. He has recently started a project that analyzes national trends in high school graduation rates with the aim of identifying the root causes of the large increase in high school graduation rates between 1999 and the present, especially for blacks and Hispanics.

    David Knight

    IES Fellow

    djknight@uchicago.edu

    Background

    David is a PhD student in the Political Science Department. He received a bachelor’s degree in history from Dartmouth College, trained as a teacher at Stanford University, and began his research career as a master’s student at Harvard University. Before coming to Chicago, David was also a certified high school teacher in the city of Boston. Additionally, David holds fellowships from the Ford Foundation, the Institute of Education Sciences, and the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program.

    Research

    David’s research interests are civic and political learning; transitions to adulthood; and urban education. More specifically, he has investigated changing understandings of citizenship in the United States with regard to race, ethnicity, and immigration; how social policies affect the political engagement and incorporation of historically marginalized groups; the sources and measurement of school disadvantage; and the political economy of urban education.  

    Natalie Jerkins Dowling

    IES Fellow

    nataliegenz@uchicago.edu

    Background

    Natalie is a graduate student in the Department of Comparative Human Development.  Natalie graduated from the University of Chicago with a degree in linguistics.

    Research

    Natalie’s research focuses on early childhood education, specifically first language acquisition and gateways to literacy. She is interested in how early oral language skills typically develop, and how early morphological, syntactic, and discourse abilities may be encouraged by caregivers and educators. Her work considers the social and academic effects of extreme differences in early language development for students with disabilities directly influencing communication and access to oral classrooms, such as deafness and autism.

    Darnell Leatherwood

    IES Fellow

    dleatherwood@uchicago.edu

    Background

    Darnell is a graduate student in the School of Social Service Administration (SSA).  Darnell graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2012 and received a Master of Arts in the Social Sciences from the University of Chicago in 2013. Before starting his doctoral program, he taught algebra at the Urban Prep Academies and was the civic engagement coordinator at the Montessori School of Englewood in Chicago.

    Research

    Darnell’s research interests include urban education, social inequality and policy, identity formation and positive youth outcomes. He is particularly interested in examining factors associated with academic achievement among vulnerable student populations in and/or from undeserved communities. He was the coordonator for the Workshop on Education for two years (2016 – 2018).

    Helen Lee

    IES Fellow

    helenlee@uchicago.edu

    Background

    Helen Lee is a graduate student in the Department of Comparative Human Development. She received her undergraduate degree in English and Political Science, as well as an M.A. in Educational Policy and Leadership, from University of Michigan.

    Research

    Jenny studies how learners use gesture and iconicity to learn language. She is also interested in how children learn and change language based on varied input (full vs. no language input). Finally, she studies how gesture impacts cognition. She answers her questions by studying gesture, homesign, signed and spoken languages.

    Jenny Lu

    IES Fellow

    jennylu@uchicago.edu

    Background

    Jenny is a doctoral student in the developmental program working with Susan-Goldin-Meadow and Amanda Woodward. She graduated in 2012 from Wellesley College where she did research with Jennie Pyers and Barbara Beatty on language and cognitive development in deaf children. After graduation, as a Susan Rappaport Knafel Scholar, she did British Sign Language development research at University College London with Gary Morgan, Pamela Perniss, and Gabriella Vigliocco.

    Research

    Jenny studies how learners use gesture and iconicity to learn language. She is also interested in how children learn and change language based on varied input (full vs. no language input). Finally, she studies how gesture impacts cognition. She answers her questions by studying gesture, homesign, signed and spoken languages.

    David McMillon

    IES Fellow

    mcmillon@uchicago.edu

    Background

    David is a graduate student in the Harris School of Public Policy.  David graduated from University of Michigan in 2012 with a degree in Mathematics. He also completed an MS in Mathematics at UM in 2014. 

    Research

    David is currently working on a dynamic discrete choice model that weighs costs and benefits of alternative types of disciplinary policies in schools. The model is designed to account for deterrence, feedback processes related to students’ attitudes towards schoolwork, peer effects, and random heterogeneity.  

    Almaz Mesghina

    IES Fellow

    mesghina@uchicago.edu

    Background

    Almaz is a graduate student in the Department of Comparative Human Development. Almaz graduated from Vanderbilt University in 2016 and received her B.S. both in Child Development and Psychology, during which she worked part-time as a preschool teacher and managed Vanderbilt’s Early Development Lab. Her previous research investigated how different interactive behaviors with touchscreens affect word learning in diverse populations of preschoolers. 

    Research

    Broadly, Almaz’s research interests focus on non-cognitive factors that affect students’ learning, with a focus on the intersection of emotions (such as stress and worry) and cognition. Almaz has also been working with UChicago STEM on a project aimed at investigating curricula in the preschool classroom.

    Valerie Michelman

    IES Fellow

    vmichelman@uchicago.edu

    Background

    Valerie is a graduate student in the Harris School of Public Policy. She received her undergraduate degree in Economics from the University of Chicago.

    Research

    Valerie’s research focuses on inequality and schooling. She is engaged in analyzing a biannual survey of schools stretching back to the late 1960s.  Valerie is using the data to study policy changes around corporal punishment in schools.

    Nancy Pantoja

    IES Fellow

    npantoja@uchicago.edu

    Background

    Nancy is a graduate student in the Department of Psychology. She received her undergraduate degree in Psychology from the University of Chicago in 2013. She completed an honors thesis examining the effects of private speech and agency on children’s memory. After graduating, she taught first graders in Chicago through Teach For America.

    Research

    Nancy is interested in exploring how social interactions can affect children’s motivation and academic outcomes. She is interested in understanding how manipulating these interactions affects children’s math learning and performance, and how these interactions differ in contexts of socioeconomic status.

    Mariel Schwartz

    IES Fellow

    mes98@uchicago.edu

    Background

    Mariel is a graduate student in the Department of Economics.  Mariel graduated from Georgetown University in 2012.  Upon graduating, Mariel worked as a research fellow at the Inter-American Development Bank’s Education Division researching inequality in education in Latin America and as a research professional at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. 

    Research

    Mariel’s interests lie in early childhood education, and she is currently conducting data analysis on the changing role of cognitive and non-cognitive skills in the sensitivity of labor market outcomes.

    Hilary Tackie

    IES Fellow

    hntackie@uchicago.edu

    Background

    Hilary is a graduate student in the Department of Comparative Human Development. She received her undergraduate degree in Cognitive Neuroscience and Africana Studies from Brown University in 2013. Before beginning her graduate work at U of C, Hilary worked as a Research Assistant at Education Trust, analyzing data of K-12 Students to identify patterns of inequity in educational opportunity and achievement.

    Research

    Hilary’s current research interests broadly involve examining the educational experiences of students of color and the sources of their sense of belonging in their schools and communities. More specifically, Hilary has recently completed a survey of 500 middle school-aged students in order to explore the relationship between students’ future goals/feelings of future support and their emotional engagement in school. For the past two years, she has also been working on Professor Keels’ Trauma Responsive Educational Practices Project, presenting information to and hosting professional development for teachers who interact with traumatized youth.

    Elayne Teska

    IES Fellow

    teskae@uchicago.edu

    Background

    Elayne is a graduate student in the Department of Comparative Human Development. She received her undergraduate degree in Psychology and Neuroscience from Carleton College. 

    Research

    Elayne’s current research centers on early home and school environments and how these influences cognitive and social-emotional development in early childhood. She has also studied how children’s self-efficacy and math anxiety are predicted by teacher’s self-efficacy and math anxiety. She is currently developing a study that focuses on spatial learning, analogical reasoning, and comparison.

    Eos Trinidad

    COE Fellow

    jtrinidad@uchicago.edu

    Background

    Eos is a doctoral student at the Department of Comparative Human Development. He was previously researcher and instructor at the Ateneo de Manila University’s Department of Interdisciplinary Studies and Institute for the Science and Art of Learning and Teaching. 

    Research

    Eos’s research looks at the influence of social, policy, and non-cognitive factors in the development of, and long-term outcomes for, students. Aside from his quantitative research on policies and non-cognitive factors affecting student achievement, he also studies student-centered learning in higher education and teacher responses to bureaucratic control.

    Lily (Shenghe) Ye

    COE Fellow

    Background

    Lily is a graduate student in the Department of Comparative Human Development. She received a BA in Linguistics from the University of Chicago.

    Research

    Lily is interested in understandings of knowledge, authority, and expertise with regard to K-12 science education in the US, and how such understandings relate to reform efforts, policy, standards, and curricula. She received a Gianinno Dissertation Write-Up Fellowship for the summer of 2018.

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